Regime Theory and International Relations

Regime Theory and International Relations

Regime Theory and International Relations

Regime Theory and International Relations

Synopsis

International regimes are systems of norms and rules agreed upon by states to govern their behavior in specific political contexts or 'issue areas' whether this is trade policy, proliferation of nuclear weapons, or the control of transboundary air pollution in a particular region of the world. In this volume experts from the United States and Europe join forces for the first time for a rigorous exploration of the concept of international regimes. They discuss the fundamental conceptual and theoretical problems of regime analysis, study how regimes are formed and how they change, examine approaches to explaining the success or failure of attempts to form regimes, and look at the consequences of regimes for international relations.

Excerpt

Since the mid-1970s the analysis of international regimes has become a major research programme within the discipline of International Relations. International regimes, according to the most widely accepted definition of the term, are sets of 'principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area' of international relations (Krasner 1983a: 1). Put differently, regimes are rules of the game agreed upon by actors in the international arena (usually nation states) and delimiting, for these actors, the range of legitimate or admissible behaviour in a specified context of activity. Examples of such contexts or issue areas are states' policies regarding trade in manufactured goods, proliferation of nuclear weapons, international whaling, or controlling transboundary air pollution in Europe. Suspicions that the study of international regimes would soon turn out to be a passing fad have not been confirmed. On the contrary, international regimes, in both their theoretical and empirical aspects, continue to arouse strong interest within the community of International Relations scholars, suggesting that regime analysis may have been an innovation in International Relations in the same fashion in which policy research has enlivened the development of political science in general.

Regime analysis, which cannot be separated from the broader study of international 'governance without government', has broken new ground in international relations theory because it has tackled -- more successfully than other approaches -- the puzzles of international co-operation and of international institutionbuilding in a world of sovereign states, a world which is anarchical in the sense that there is no central government capable of making and enforcing international rules of conduct. Regime analysis has thus filled analytical gaps which other theoretical approaches either did not address at all (such as Waltzian neo-realism) or proved ill-equipped for (such as integration theory).

Conducted within a 'dividing discipline' (K. J. Holsti), the study . . .

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